Free College Course for Nature Journaling
begins March 3, 2020
A Natural History Illustration course (I call it the nature journal college course) is taught by the University of Newcastle. This course is taught live and by video, and is offered online free about every six months. Open enrollment is available now – the course begins March 3rd!
why the natural history illustration is a good fit for homeschoolers
A year ago, I shared that I was going to take what I called a “nature journal college course” from the University of Newcastle.
I really loved it!
Guess what? The free natural history illustration course is being repeated! It begins March 3, 2020. The free course is called Drawing Nature, Science and Culture: Natural History Illustration 101. It comes to us online, from the University of Newcastle in Australia.
The course covers botanical illustration, but goes so much deeper than just showing you how the teacher draws objects. Instead, you are encouraged to draw the object as you see it! Also, you’ll learn about natural history illustrators who are helping scientists (an artist will sometimes notice things that are missed in photographs or not noticed by simply viewing an animal).
what ages is this course good for?
The course will definitely be a good fit for your homeschooling high schoolers. I took this course alongside our middle schooler, who has always been seriously interested in art. I would take it with my elementary-aged kids, as you’re encouraged to draw natural objects (such as a bird) as you see them.
what is in the nature journal college course
Here is the course schedule:
- Week 1: Introduction to the course
- Week 2: Observational Drawing
- Week 3: Field sketching and recording techniques
- Week 4: The structure of flowers and leaves
- Week 5: The structure of mammals and birds
- Week 6: Rendering (creating finished artworks)
Here is the official introductory video:
what materials are needed:
The links below go to the items on Amazon*, so you can see what I use. This class doesn’t need to be expensive – use what you have at home, as you surely have a pencil and paper, and that’s all you really must have.
- A good quality A3 sketchpad with hard, smooth paper
- A hard surface to rest your paper on (either a desk, table or drawing board)
- Scrap paper or paper towel to rest your hand on
- A selection of graphite (lead) pencils of varying hardness, ranging from 4B to 2H. These can either be traditional wood-cased pencils or mechanical pencils
- A kneadable eraser and a hard eraser
- A feather or a soft brush to dispose of eraser rubbings
- A few colored pencils or a small selection of watercolor paints and a small paintbrush (optional)
- Although not essential it is very helpful to have a desk lamp so that your paper and subject are lit well and consistently
is there a schedule or may I take it at my leisure?
The course begins March 3, 2020, and for the next 6 weeks, the professors will be available to look at submitted homework. The discussion board will also be open for students to communicate.
The course will go on for 6 weeks, and the time needed (“effort”) is 3-6 hours per week. You will work on the course at your leisure; there is no set schedule.
When the course is officially complete, I believe you’ll still be able to view some content, but you will no longer have the ability to turn in homework, receive professor feedback, or participate in the class discussion board.
how to enroll and participate in natural history illustration 101
The Natural History Illustration 101 course begins March 3, 2020. There’s still plenty of time to register, but do it soon so you’ll be ready!
You will not receive college credit for taking the free course, but you can purchase a “verified certificate” from EdX. I don’t know anything about what that really means, but you’ll see the option when you sign up.
*The Amazon links give me a bit of cash if you purchase something there, at no extra cost to you. Also – here’s a money-saving tip: I’m not an affiliate of EdX, but I noticed eBates will give you 6.5% cash back – just thought I’d throw that out there, if you wanted to go the certificate way (I simply took the course for free).